Now a perfect 15-for-15 on extra points, Mia Van Winter is proving her skills as a kicker on the field.
Mia Van Winter was more worried than anything else when she earned a spot on the Spruce Creek High School football team.
As the lone girl on the team, she wondered if she was going to fit in. Would the guys bully her? Would they make her feel like she’s not welcome? Would she get hurt or hit while playing?
These are the questions she asked herself, but she quickly learned that she wasn’t going to be a victim of any form of mistreatment, but rather, she would be protected like she was everyone’s little sister.
“The team didn’t have a kicker and my brother Kyle told the coaches that they knew someone who could kick,” Van Winter said. “So he had to drive me out to soccer practice, but on the way we started kicking with them and they were impressed, so I made the team.”
Van Winter’s first love is soccer, and that’s where she learned the ability to kick. As a center back for Florida Elite, a local club team, she’s an expert at clearing the ball and kicking it a long ways, similarly to how she does on the football field.
Although Van Winter hasn’t attempted a field goal yet during the regular season, the junior is 15-for-15 on extra points this season. She is going for perfection, and so far, so good.
“The guys were super cool with me being on the team and they’ve been protective,” Van Winter said. “I didn’t know how the guys would react to me being a girl, but it definitely has turned out better than I was expecting.”
Her holder is the team’s starting quarterback Kyle Minckler. He’s had quite the nice start to his season himself as he scored six touchdowns in the team’s last game against Atlantic and has Spruce Creek out to a 2-0 start in which the team has outscored its opponents 105-0.
As one of the captains and leaders of the team, he wanted to ensure that the guys referred to Van Winter as one of their own, and another person on the team that’s to be protected and relied on.
“Mia is one of us,” Minckler said. “We don’t treat her any different from anybody else. We trust her with the kicking and she trusts us blocking for her, so we don’t even have in mind that she is a girl. She’s a player and a teammate.”
Van Winter notes how different kicking a football is than a soccer ball.
There is a certain sweet spot on a football that she needs to aim for and hit, whereas a soccer ball has a much bigger target. It was initially a challenge for her to learn, but now that she’s in the groove, the sky is the limit for her.
In fact, she said she could kick a field goal as far as 40 yards without pads on. Time will tell if she gets that chance during a game, but regardless, Van Winter will be ready and won’t be worried.
“I used to not know if I could do it or if the guys would be nervous about me being around,” Van Winter said. “Now the team treats me like a little sister. I'm super thankful for all the guys and the coaches for everything they have done and continue to do to help me."